The European Broadcasting Union, the body that organizes Eurovision, has now responded to the growing number of media reports concerning allegations of voting fraud and rule breaching during this year’s contest.
In a statement released on the EBU website this evening, Jon Ola Sand, Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest (pictured above), said that the integrity of the contest must be upheld:
The millions of viewers in Europe and the contestants, who have put heart and soul into their performances, deserve a fair and transparent result. […] I have been around at the Eurovision Song Contest since 1998, and every year there are rumors about irregularities in the voting. Particularly this year, we felt it was time to firmly deal with these rumors.
Regarding the Lithuanian press reports on Azerbaijan’s alleged attempt to buy votes, Jon Ola Sand responded:
We are looking into this case, but would emphasise that the intention of these individuals have not yet been clarified, and nor has a link been established between the individuals in the video and the Azeri delegation, the Azeri act or the Azeri EBU Member Ictimai TV.
The statement goes on to specify that, based on criteria established by the EBU and televote processing platform Digame and overseen by a PwC observer, votes garnered through any instances of power-voting are disregarded.
Regarding the vote recount undertaken by Azerbaijan due to the nul points awarded to Russia, the EBU’s response was as follows:
The combination of televotes and jury votes, each bearing a 50% influence on the outcome, did not result in a top 10 position for Russia in the overall result from Azerbaijan. Therefore, Azerbaijan awarded Russia no points – a result confirmed by a notary onsite, by our voting partner Digame and by an independent observer from PwC.
Jon Ola Sand added:
The first duty of the EBU, as organiser of the Eurovision Song Contest, is to its Members, the public service broadcasters in the participating countries (Ictimai TV in Azerbaijan). We believe that the Song Contest’s apolitical spirit is a cornerstone of its enduring success, and we will do all we can to protect it.
The EBU claims that any form of political pressure exerted on professional juries that affects their complete independence is a violation of the Rules of the Eurovision Song Contest, and would be duly dealt with.
With regards to the national jury irregularities, the EBU felt the need to specify that:
To assure a fair jury voting, judges are asked to sign a document declaring their independency, and are asked to submit details about their professional background. The jury voting is overlooked by an independent notary who confirms to the EBU and PwC that the voting has been conducted in accordance with the Rules.
As for possible consequences, Dr. Frank Dieter Freiling, Chairman of the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group, the event’s governing body on behalf of EBU Members, stated:
Let me be clear on this. If we find any clear evidence that the Rules are being breached, including attempts of power-voting, we act immediately to do what we are obliged to do on behalf of the Members: to protect the Eurovision Song Contest brand.
At the end of the statement, the EBU revealed that, based on all criteria laid out in the Rules, the independent observers from PwC had confirmed the validity of the result of the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest.
While we digest this response and monitor developments in this unprecedented post-Eurovision string of scandals, what do YOU, the readers, the fans and the televoters, make of this response? Do you buy the EBU’s statements? Or do you think that this is just the tip of the iceberg? What shall we make of the EBU’s blatant refusal to accept the Azerbaijani president’s findings? And what about the Italian jury, who clearly didn’t comply with the EBU rules?
Read our exclusive interview with Thomas Niedermayer, the head of the EBU’s voting system. We spoke with him a few days before the Eurovision grand final—and before all these scandals emerged.
Photo credit: ebu.ch.